Monday, November 12, 2007

National Distance Learning Week - DE Numbers Continue to Climb

Did you know that students taking only distance education courses accounted for 23 percent of TWU’s total enrollment this fall? 1 That’s up from 20 percent last fall.

At TWU, a distance education course or degree is defined as one in which 50 percent or more of the content is delivered through electronic means (Internet, televideo, etc.). As illustrated by the figure above, distance education is becoming increasingly popular among the student body.

Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Services Teresa Mauk said, "TWU's DE programs have been a major component in our enrollment growth. Degree programs and courses provide our students with the flexibility and convenience they want, while still maintaining the curriculum rigor for which TWU is known."

TWU has experienced a steady increase in the number of students who take online courses, a trend that colleges around the country are experiencing as well. The Sloan Consortium is an organization focused on the development and continued improvement of quality online programs. For fall 2006, it reported that nationally nearly 3.5 million students took at least one online course. That is up 10 percent from 2005.2

The popularity of distance education is evident at TWU as well, seen by our enrollment and addition of new distance education courses. This fall, 5,383 TWU students enrolled in a distance education course. Of those, 2,782 took distance education courses only. Those numbers reflect a 15 and 18 percent increase, respectively, from fall 2006. Also this fall, TWU offered 279 different distance education courses, up from 244 last fall. Many of these current courses had multiple sections for a total of 647 course sections taught via distance education. That number also reflects an increase from 544 total sections of DE courses from last fall.


Why are we seeing this increase in DE enrollment and courses? Assistant Vice President of Lifelong Learning Mike Simmons offers an explanation. He said, “The growth in distance education at TWU results from a unique combination of faculty commitment and student demand. These factors, combined with the strong support of Chancellor Stuart and Provost Gunning, allow TWU to be among the leaders in providing quality distance education for students.”

TWU currently offers 15 degrees which are considered part of distance education. All of them are offered either fully or predominately online. These degrees include:
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science
  • Master of Library Science
  • Master of Science in Speech/Language Pathology
  • Mster of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education
  • Executive Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Family Studies
  • Master of Arts in Teaching
  • Master of Science in Food Systems Administration (Nutrition & Food Sciences)
  • Master of Science in Education of the Deaf
  • Master of Science in Kinesiology
  • Master of Science in Health Studies
  • COTA to Master of Occupational Therapy
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Studies Completion (upper division courses only)
  • Bachelor of General Studies Completion
  • RN-BS Online Program for Registered Nurses

Not only do students have the opportunity to enroll in one of these quality degrees, they can also utilize the same services that on-campus students do. Tomorrow’s article will focus on how distance learners who never come to campus are served so that they feel as much a part of the Pioneer community as every other student.

1 All data referring to TWU distance education was taken from the Fall 2007Distance Education Snapshot Report. To request a copy of this report, please email
DE@twu.edu.

2 Allen, I.E. and Seaman J. (2007) Online Nation; Five Years of Growth in Online Learning. The Sloan Consortium. Available online at
http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/pdf/online_nation.pdf